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John Kerry 11, Boehner 8, Washington 6, Susan Rice 6, Obama 6, Us 6, Ari 6, Chuck Hagel 5, Hagel 4, Sam 3, Geico 3, Michael Eric Dyson 3, Paul Ryan 3, Newtown 3, Vietnam 3, Andrea Mitchell 3, Luke Russert 2, Wayne La Pierre 2, Msnbc 2, New York 2,
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  MSNBC    NOW With Alex Wagner    News/Business. Alex Wagner.  
   Forces driving the day's stories. New.  

    December 21, 2012
    9:00 - 9:59am PST  

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i appreciate your patience. inouye's body will be returned to hawaii tomorrow. that's going to wrap it up for me. i appreciate your time. thanks so much for joining me. i'll see you back here on monday. don't go anywhere, though. "now" comes up next, and guest hosting ari. >> we do have a strong panel today. joining me is msnbc contributor and georgetown university professor michael eric dyson. salon.com's irene carmon, and white house correspondent for the huffington post, and the daily show co-creator and author lynn winstead. we are just one week after the tragic shooting in connecticut, and the executive vice president of the nra has now broken his silence. he says it's the good guys against the bad guys, and everyone should have a gun. i disagree. if you look today at the speech that we showed just earlier here on msnbc, it's the first time since the newtown mass murder that the nra has spoken out in a speech that brought out the
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protesters. >> see there? several protesters interrupting. the nra did not focus on regulating semiautomatic weapons in this address, an address i think can only be described as combative. wayne la pierre attacked the press, the game and movie industry, and unnamed politicians for basically getting this story wrong, and he issued a range of criticisms. he staked out his organization's solution to this problem. ultimately as more guns. >> the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. i call on congress today to act immediately to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. >> there you have it. the nra called on congress to
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fund armed guards at every school in the nation and propose that a former prosecutor lead an nra effort for that program. look, this was not a press conference because will pierre refused to take questions from the assembled reporters. he was interrupted twice by protesters criticizing the nra and advocating -- >> there's a petitioned on the white house website calling for more semiautomatic gun control.
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>> i will do everything in my power as president to advance these efforts because if there's even one thing we can do as a country to protect our children, we have a responsibility to try it. >> that statement builds on the president's call for congressional action early next year. >> i will be putting forward very specific proposals. i will be talking about them in my state of the union and we will be working with interested members of congress to try and get something done. >> vice president joe biden is leading the push to draft those proposals, and yesterday he began that effort, meeting with law enforcement officials and cabinet members. i want to go right to you, michael eric dyson. you saw as much of our audience did, this rather extraordinary address from the head of the nra. here we are. as i said, one week out from this mass murder, from this shooting, which the nation is still reeling from, and as i said, you can only describe it
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as combative, and one of the themes that really coursed throughout that address was that the problem is fake guns in movies and video games, not real guns in our schools. >> yeah. you are being very kind. i think menevolent at. it wasn't fake guns that killed these kids. they were real guns. they were semiautomatic weapon guns. they were clips and strips and drums that allowed a person to go willy nilly into a school room and exercise his lethal intent. that is not a video game. that is not a rap song. that is not a scorsese movie. that is an american fascination, an addiction to violence and to guns, and the worship of guns. gary wills in the new york review of books talks about our fascination with and our worship of guns. he says we are worshipping not only the iconography of the gun but the gun itself. let's be honest about it.
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wayne la pierre is the high priest of the guns that murdered and maimed and not what happens in the video game. we all know about cultural influences, and we can speak about those. the reality is guns. people with men eflent intent kill. >> you hit on something. the idea of worshipping the violates itself. we all understand in a society that sometimes bad things happen. there is violence and self-defense is a legal right. >> right. >> but you are talking about a sort of excitement around the violence where the gun is a good thing. we don't want the gun to be a good thing. i want to play one spot from his speech, one thing he said and get your response, irene. >> 1,000 music videos, and you all know this, portrait life as a joke, and they play murder -- portrait murder as a way of life, and then they all had the nerve to call it entertainment. is that what it really is? isn't fantasizing about killing
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people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography? >> that's a statement from mr. la pierre just really moments ago in this press conference, or as i was saying a speemp, because he didn't take questions. what do you think of his claim that what we should be focussing on is what he calls pornographic client. >> i think he spat in the faces of the families of the victims of sandy hook. i think he stood up there and showed such tremendous ugliness and the real fantasy here is that this legion of armed volunteers, i believe, asa hutchinson said -- the fantasy is that they are going to somehow avert what we saw as opposed to controlling the stock of semiautomatic weapons. so i think he can change the subject all he wants. we've seen a lot of changing the subject this week. everything blaming from lack of god to feminism, but i think everybody really understands that if a madman has -- if they
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happen to be legal, then they understand what's really happening here. >> i would like to point out that we are in a family culture that has video games. you know -- >> what? >> i know. it's shocking. i'm about to break some news here. you know, the grand theft auto was created by a company in england. >> they have them in japan too. >> no. >> how many people know their teachers and their teacher's guards well enough to arm all of the -- even if it was -- >> gun violence doesn't always come to school, so if we look at -- >> what? >> if we go by his logic, then we would have to have armed guards at temples and shopping malls, every one of them. now some do. of course, movie theaters.
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if we really want to prevent gun violates, we would do that. secondly, we did have an instance of violence where there were armed guards. it was fort hood. it happened. thirdly, what he is advocating is incredibly anti-conservative. he wants a massive expansion of government. he wants essentially a tsa in every school. salon, i think, did a calculation of the cost. it would be $5.5 billion a year just to put people in schools. i mean, this is just a radical -- >> the national database of mental health -- >> so the idea that this is a practical solution is silly, and i am surprised that he went on air and did this because i have been talking with a couple of people on the hill, and our expectation was they would throw out a little bit for progressives or people -- gun control advocates to chew on. perhaps the high capacity magazine, but he had nothing in there that hinted at any reasonableness to compromise, any desire to compromise. i was very surprised sfwloosh that's what i thought i want to say. in washington so often as you know, sam, from covering the white house, you have the pseudo-events where people come
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out and say now is the time where i'm going to sound reasonable. >> yes. >> and that's the goal of the day. even though they don't give up. >> that was what was news about this coverage. >> did he soubd reasonable to you? >> not at all. he trolled the press corps. he didn't even take questions. he wanted cameras on him and say exactly the same thing that the nra says after gun violence. this is the media's fault. this is hollywood's fault. >> let me bring back michael. let's put aside your substantive disagreement with the nra. >> sure. >> were you surprised that he sounded cold rather than compassionate about this terrible mass murder? >> sure. you are asking me to be strategic for him, and i will. look, you step up to the podium, and you say this is an american tragedy. what happened, no party to this can in any fashion acknowledge that it was good. it was bad. now, i understand that you have a problem with my industry, and i get that. i get why it is that you have gun manufacturing problems. let me tell you what we can do to contribute. strategically. i don't agree with him at all,
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but at least you have -- >> that's what i found so striking. any argument you have in good faith you try to at least show them you understand what are their legitimate grievances even if you come out in a different place. he didn't do that. i want to show you one other thing in the time we have. i ran people are very cynical, people are grieving, but people also say if we've never had any progress on this, fine, the president is giving some speeches, but will there be action? why would this be different? we put together a look at some of the big events that have caused legislative action. it is not the case that this never works, that tragedies don't actually lead to something. if you look at 9/11, for example, you had very briefly about two weeks after you had the patriot act. whether or not you thought it was a good or bad bill, there was a fundamental change in that kind of criminal justice policy. you had enron being a big spark from mccain-fine gold. the arthur anderson bankruptcy of a catalyst for sarbanes-oxley, something that was previously considered dead because of opposition in the financial community, and lastly, of course, the financial
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meltdown led to dodd-frank, a very controversial piece of legislation, so do you think that there might be those kind of precedence here? is this big enough, like a meltdown of sorts, where people might change the calculus in congress? >> that's what's fascinating about what happened this morning. as michael mentioned, they had an opportunity to diffuse the anger and the action against them if they had come out and said something that sounded reasonable and had mullified everybody. people might have said, okay, something is going to happen here. people's attention span is tragically short. now i think this has been a great week for flushing out what people really think, and i think this is going to stoke the anger and make people want to stay on their legislators. we also saw the original assault weapon ban happen in the wake of a shooting. >> exactly. >> i think that there's reason to believe that this time with these tragic tiny caskets will be different. >> right. we're going to look at what else might move congress because there's a couple of other things that the country is not liking the congress is doing right up after the break. it looks a lot like cliff-mas. that's what we're calling it
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around here. >> boo. >> on capitol hill. >> let it go. let it go. let it go. >> it's the capitol rotunda even had a chimney, it's unlikely that santa would bother with it. we will look at the fall-out from the famous plan b next on "now." [ male announcer ] it's simple physics... a body at rest tends to stay at rest...
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mutany on the ss boehner. it was high seas drama as the house republican congress revolted against spiker john boehner who had to cancer his planned vote on the plan b tax proposal. it was a tactical stunt.
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it was not expected to become law. the speaker thought, however, that demonstrating a united vote on taxes would give him more leverage in these ongoing negotiations with the president. that's not how it went down. even this narrow tax package was too much for many republicans to swallow. one house member said that raising taxes on millionaires under plan b would have benoit the most difficult vote of their career." congressman tim hulcamp who bucked the speaker said it was a victory for conservative principles. >> i disagree with john boehner actually caving on taxes. he did that without, i think, the support of the conference, as we found out. as you mentioned earlier, leadership is actually about listening. >> and last night boehner loyalists didn't even try to put on a happy face. >> disappointed. it's unbelievable. this is horrible. i mean, i'm angry. i'm sad for my friend, the speaker, and i'm sad for the country. >> he has worked his heart out to try to get the best deal he
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can, and to have this happen is very sad for the country. >> now even though boehner did not achieve the floor vote, he argues that obama and senate democrats should make the next move, but that won't be easy as speaker boehner admitted today. >> there's a perception created that that vote last night was going to increase taxes. now, i disagree with that characterization of the bill, but that impression was out there, and we had a number of our members who just didn't really want to be perceived as having to raise taxes. that was the real issue. >> translation? i failed. majority leader eric cantor, who is also a proteshl rooil to boehner is staying united on this one. he released a statement basically releasing the house for christmas. the house has concluded legislative work. no deal to avoid the fiscal cliff and its inducing spending cuts.
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check. no deal to avoid tax hikes on 100% of americans. check. the republican mutany was successful, but the cost could ultimately sink the economy. joining us now from the capitol is nbc's luke russert. how are you doing? >> ari, how are you, sir? good to see you in the chair. >> nice to see you. let's go right to it. when speaker boehner says it's now up to the president, what does that mean to you, and how does that basically intersect with the reporting you did last night showing this was a real tough conference meeting? >> well, it's interesting. it's what is the path forward from here, ari, and to be quite frank with you, nobody necessarily knows that. there are a few options here. does the negotiations between president obama and speaker john boehner continue, and perhaps he brings up legislation on the house floor that does not have a majority of the house gop conference? probably not going to do that. i have been informed that they would like to have a sort of basement of 120 votes before they put anything on the floor. >> let me stop you right there,
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because that's such an important point. what you are saying is they're still committed to basically the hastert rule that they need a majority of majority of republicans. >> as of right now that's the indication is they would like a majority of a majority of republicans before moving forward, so -- >> let's bring in your -- i want to bring in your discussion with communications director of the white house last night, dan phiffer. he said this is all proof of how hard it is for the gop to raise taxes under any circumstances, and you added, i think for rhetorical flare, the ghost of reagan would have trouble getting 216, and white house communications director dan phiffer replied to you, luke, and he said that's why you do things in a bipartisan way. could have easily pass the obama's offer with the help of democrats. do you think pfeiffer is right about that, and do you think there's any chance of success through that mechanism? >> pfeiffer is right in the sense that if you actually would have a bipartisan bill and bring in democrats, if you only had to get 40 or so republicans, you
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could do that. you can get 120 for some sort of grand bargain that we've seen or we've heard about for all these weeks. going forward, though that will be interesting to look at. remember the payroll tax fight that mitch mcconnell came up with the solution that the house originally did not like. he sort of said that's the way it's going to go. does go come out of this? there are five bills over there that could attach five house pass bills. they could attach. that could occur. ari, it remains to be seen, but the other thing we should look at here is do we remove the question of tax rates from the overall discussion? are we going to have a plan moving forward -- go there and
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say this is the middle tax relief package for 250,000 and below. >> last question with the limited time we have. what are you going to do for the next couple of days? these guys aren't coming back. how do you get an indication of when there will be any action? >> well, the senate is here on the 27th. they're here thursday. not at the highest level, but there will probably be sort of a few gauging calls. these talks for all intents and purposes, ari, right now are pretty much stalled until late next week, and by that time you really only have six days left before the 31st comes around. >> thank you, luke russert for your reporting. i know you were up late last night with all the meetings and back at it today. thank you for your time. >> take care. >> let's go to you. what do you think of what we just heard? they are basically fleeing. there will be some staff discussions, but there have been
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staff discussions. if we go over the cliff, ultimately with your view, is that good for progressives and those who want obama to give up less? >> all along i have really thought that, you know, the president has a lot more leverage. democrats have a lot more leverage. why don't they just wait it out? i think the initial offer that the president brought to the house of representatives was one that angered liberals, but perhaps he knew had no chance anyway. we're talking about we've gone from $250,000 for the bar on the tax -- marginal tax rate increase to $400,000 to they wouldn't even accept $1 million. we have a situation where he has tried to compromise. he made a good faith effort. they didn't take any of it. they didn't -- they refused over tax rates for people who make more than $1 million. i think that needs to be said again and again. >> sure. >> so, you know, wait it out. pass the middle class tax cuts. everyone can see who it is that is shutting down government. >> there seems to be only two options here. one is that they abandoned this majority of the majority rule, and boehner risks his speakership, craft az plan with
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large democratic support and has the president sign into law. the other is we go over the cliff. the pressure just mounts on republicans back in the district to get something done. finally they buckle. i don't really see necessarily the easy resolution to either of those. the one thing that's remarkable to me is what does obama have to do to convince house republicans to cut social security? he has offered them two packages. once in 201 1 and now again this time where they would get their entitlement reform, a deduction in benefit reform? each time they've said no to him. it's remarkable why they don't understand they've had victory enhanced? >> wasn't that the predicament. what do you do with an army that doesn't have -- >> they have won 98% of the argument here. >> what do you do with an army that doesn't have --
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>> when you are risking your political life, why do you go in not with the plan that you could certainly lay some of the blame on the president with? why do you then go i'm going to go with plan b? i'm going at it alone. it's my plan. i'm the one that's 100% responsible for it? >> my question is different, though. my question is why do they not say -- why do we assume they're risking their political life? why can't they frame it that we're getting 98%. we're cutting government. we're raising taxes marginally, but we're also having social security benefits. >> because they want to burn the house down. they came to burn the house down. >> maybe. >> it sounds like this entire analysis is predicated on a single grain, making ill logical decisions. isn't there an alternative that there's too many brains? so you have boehner trying to do what you are talking about because it was his way of saying, look, we can get something done, and then he has other brains saying burn it down.
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>> this brain talking. it's crazy because the reality is this. obama -- thank you, sir. obama is like saying they don't want to deal with me. i hate to make it personal, you know, basically, but he said, like, to what extent are these republicans willing to subvert the health of the entire economy in deference to narrow principles that they can't even righteously defend? so what i can't -- the claim here is in a i agree with president obama. they just don't want to make the deal with him. there's something about him that keeps them from doing the right thing -- you're in it. that's another thing to do. i think the problem is that the american public. we're having on the front of
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video games versus the nra. the republicans don't get that they're in that same position, and that the american public is tired of this, and i think that, unfortunately, they think they have more juice and mojo than they do. >> that's the issue, right? transition is hard. if you have ever ended a relationship or lost a job, you know -- >> don't make me cry. >> this is the oprah tears part. >> oh, my god. ari, you are getting to me. >> isn't the solution here more armed guards in the capitol, i guess? >> right. >> there is a transition. i mean, john harwood of the "new york times" and cnbc has pointed out that the democrats when they first lost their grip on congress in the 1970s took years to figure out a narrative that actually connected with the public. we in the media particularly want things to happen fast. the public, take us out of it -- the public wants action because people don't want to lose up to 277,000 federal jobs right off the top. >> let me defend the democrats. >> only in ten seconds. >> the difference is we weren't trying to take the country down in the process.
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we were finding therapy for ourselves. we weren't having a firing squad in a semicircle the same way the conservatives are. >> michael eric dyson, lynn winstead. stays on the panel for now. for now. coming up, we are going to talk about president obama's next big nomination, john kerry, as secretary of state, and another potential member of the national security team is chuck hagel, although that former senator and vietnam veteran may be under some fire. stay with us. ♪
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[ male announcer ] the way it moves. the way it cleans. everything about the oral-b power brush is simply revolutionary. oral-b power brushes oscillate, rotate and even pulsate to gently loosen and break up that sticky plaque with more brush movements than manual brushes and even up to 50% more than leading sonic technology brushes for a superior clean. oral-b power brushes. go to oralb.com for the latest offers. it was the worst kept secret in washington, and now it's official. president obama will nominate senator john kerry to be his next secretary of state today. for a guy who was once swift boat, the worst attack on kerry these days goes something like this. >> it looks like president obama is going to pick john kerry to be our next secretary of state.
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this is a very strategic move when it comes to our foreign policy. obama plans to use kerry. see, he will bore our enemies to death. >> we will discuss the kerry pick and more challenging cabinet options next on "now." excuse me, sir i'm gonna have to ask you to power down your little word game. i think your friends will understand. oh no, it's actually my geico app...see? ...i just uh paid my bill. did you really? from the plane? yeah, i can manage my policy, get roadside assistance, pretty much access geico 24/7. sounds a little too good to be true sir. i'll believe that when pigs fly. ok, did she seriously just say that?
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>> nbc has confirmed that john kerry has been selected by president obama to be his next secretary of state. kerry's nomination has been one of the worst kept secrets in washington and had been held up by a range of factors, including this chaos in congress. last night the five-term senator was spotted making a rare appearance on the house floor shaking hands and chatting with democratic members, so then when asked by politico if the hugs were for a job promotion, kerry replied no, no, no, no, no, no,
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no. today it looks a little more like yes, yes, yes. the 69-year-old chairman of the senate foreign relations committee maligned by republicans, of course, just eight years ago has not encountered any op sfwligs from his colleagues across the aisle. that's a far cry from the uproar that greeted another member of president obama's foreign policy team, u.n. ambassador susan rice. kerry is due to appear along side president obama at a white house event announcing his nomination next hour. sam, i want to start right there. john kerry and susan rice, of course, were both confident of this president on foreign policy. kerry at times had some substantive breaks with the president, and now he is being tapped to really go in there and be a voice for this administration. >> we look at this through the prism of his 2004 run and what happened to him there and how he was passed over in 2008, but there is, you know, deep substance to this pick, and kerry is someone obviously forever dating back to his time in vietnam, and also in his
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service at the foreign relations committee, and it's worth noting that he was one of the first people who said our middle east, our afghan, iraq mind set was misplaced, and he said we need to start looking at pakistan and putting money into developing sort of counterterrorism operations there, so there are great substantive issues that come with this nomination that haven't been explored yet, but i'm curious to see how they come up. >> i want to pick up on this as well. john kerry, who full disclosure, i worked for was also really more of a multilateralist than this president. we have a president who talks a lot and has a great understanding for the international legal frameworks, who talks about wanting to work within the rule of law, gave great speeches about that, but rightly criticized for my exceptions to that, and on foreign policy doctrine itself was very clear, i will say, when & when he ran for president the first time, then senator obama said i will go into pakistan, i will go in and basically compromise territorial authority. that's not something that john kerry's senate history as a foreign policy leader has supported. how does that -- >> not only that. i'll take it a step further.
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i'm guessing -- i haven't found it myself -- but aisle you'll find many quotes in john kerry's archives where he is critical of these executive actions, the indefinite detention when he was under bush, and it's going to be probably used against him when he is -- is he probably going to be asked about how he can reconcile that with what is happening under president obama. >> irene. >> i feel i have to speak up for my people. this side of the table is still upset about susan rice. >> let me stop you right there. >> i just had a kwvshgs at the break. anyone can join our club. >> we didn't have a party, by the way. sam and i. >> in all seriousness, i think while john kerry, you know -- i applaud -- i hope that he continues to be an internal irritant when it comes to issues of civil liberties and unilateralism versus the alternatives, but at the same time i do think that on this day that he is being nominated we need to acknowledge that republicans chased out susan rice and made her a scapegoat for policy decisions that she
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had nothing to do with, security decisions she had nothing to do with, and as a result we now have a president surrounded -- the first black president, it's true, but surrounded by a series of old white men from the senate and i would like to see maybe chief of staff, maybe hagel if he concedes to republicans on hagel, i would just like to see a cabinet that is more diverse and is not a bunk of old white guys from the senate. >> let's pick up on that, and i want to push you a little on where that responsibility goes. for people who heard what you just said and said that sounds bad, is that bad because the president gave up on susan rice, because he may have had the votes in the senate from what we could tell. we have reported on this program and alex wagner has reported about more than 50 democratic senators looking to support and very few republicans filibustering. i want to ask you that. i also want to bridge to what you said. let's look at chuck hagel's resume, because he is being talked about as a potential secretary of defense. he is a vietnam veteran with two purple hearts. he served as a nebraska senator. a relatively moderate senator by
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today's gop standards. he was a critic of the iraq war. there was some talk about him running for president in 2008, although he would have been -- and his link to obama. he has been a chairman of the president's intelligence advisory board, which i should mention, is not a significant board. sometimes the boards sound like a random thing. the intelligence board tends to have a real strong relationship with these agencies as they plot strategies. number one, is it obama's fault that he gave up on the last nominee, and if hagel is criticized, should he be standing by him? >> i think any time that you are getting criticism both from the left when it comes to chuck hagel's comments on homo sexuality in which he said that that was -- and wanted don't ask don't tell to stand. i think there are concerns, obviously, from people who call themselves supporters of israel, it's unfortunate, though, that now obama makes it look like every time, you know -- every time john mccain holds a press conference, every time apex sends out a press release, he won't stand behind his nominees.
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that's why we have so few judicial nominees. >> they're not nominees. that's the problem. you put them out there, and their names get floated, and if a lot of them come out for, in this instance for chuck hagel, is t would look like he is picking him for defense. who knows? >> that's such an important part of the policy that you mentioned, sam. bill cohen, who is a former secretary of defense, republican who served under president bill clinton, said something to this effect. he said, look, you leave someone hanging in the wind out there, and people can make allegations and marshall opposition, and it's very difficult to defend yourself until you are actually named. it's not fair to senator hagel. that's the context he is speaking in. he ought to have the ability to name his team, go out and fight for them. that's what he is talking about. michael, many people feel that susan rice got a raw deal. >> i do. >> you do? i heard this whole side of the table does. >> right. >> i don't want to let the president off the hook if the question is on either of these no, ma'am nations for those who say they should get their fair due, is this process playing out
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the right way from the president's leadership? >> look, when the president said come after me and don't come after her, that was an extraordinary moment in kind of presidential press history. let's not negate the fact that he did stand up for a woman, as sam said, he had not yet named or nominated as his particular choice for secretary of state. let's not ignore that. on the other hand, we know that if she can't cover her flank, so to speak, because she has not been officially named, are you in that gray zone where everybody knows it's you, but you can't say it's you, so we have to pretend we don't know it's you while your enemies who say it's you can beated you to smitherines. it's an unxhfrltable process. i think the president has to expand that political capital. where do you expend it. we're going to end up having a cabinet that's less diverse than under george w. bush. so we have to ask the question, what happens then? that's not obama's intent, but that is the consequence of what's going on here with the politics as they exist.
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>> it's a really important point. the attacks on susan rice in a weird way may actually strengthen the backbone for defending chuck hagel who will be yet another republican secretary of defense serving in his administration. >> and a frmer senator. >> our side of the table wins that argument. >> if you say so. >> we'll say so. >> i'm really getting -- honestly. we were too bezy making out over here. it's breaking news. >> i heard you say this, but we are going to leave it there, and we will keep an eye on the hagel nomination. coming up, the holidays are usually a time for hope and compassion, and this year that may be more true than ever. we are going to reflect on these issues when paul ryan adversely -- well, this is -- let me say it a different way. we're going to introduce someone paul ryan called the chief nun on the bus. she joins us next ahead. i always wait until the last minute.
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chief nu no the bus sister simone campbell had a big 2012. we'll talk to sister sam own about faith, community, and fairness when she joins us next on "now." [ british accent ] i host a book club. so sexy... vaga had no tolerance for such dastardly deeds. finally... [ male announcer ] when you combine creamy velveeta with zesty rotel tomatoes and green chilies, you get a bowl of queso that makes even this get-together better.
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mitt romney and paul ryan are correct when they say that each individual should be responsible but their budget goes astray in not acknowledging that we are responsible not only for ourselves and our immediate family. rather, our faith strongly affirms that we are all responsible for one another.
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>> many at the democratic national convention and around the country by talking about the need for americans to come together. now a week after the shooting in newtown, connecticut, many people are thinking about what that means. in the tragedy's wake, of course, president obama reminded the nation about americans' duty to help one another in difficult times. >> this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together. with the help of friends and neighbors, the had he of a community, and the help of a nation. >> while the tragedy inspired the nation to come together after newtown, too often we do see that same spirit lapse during less trying times, and as many americans celebrate the holiday season with loved ones, many less fortunate will, of course, experience a christmas marked by poverty and hunger. we're the richest country in the world, but we have 46 million
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americans -- that's 15% of our population -- living in poverty. we have 50 million americans, including 16.7 million children, living in food insecure households, and right now politicians in washington are still talking about tough budgetary choices concerning changes to our social safety net and that also could have a huge impact on americans of lower means. joining us now from washington is the chief nun on the bus and executive director of network sister simone campbell. thank you for being here. >> so glad to be with you. we've been talking a lot about the past week about the tragedy in newtown. i think many people agree it does not create a predicate for any single policy response, but it does undeniably affect the way americans are feeling as we if into the holidays. how does it affect the work you're trying to do in basically rewiring the way congress deals with programs for poverty? >> well, yesterday we were lobbying on capitol hill, and one of the things that struck me was a comment by congresswoman rosa deloro who said that to
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deny food to children was also an act of violence against children, and it made me realize that we as a nation have a long way to go to really treasure our future generation. i am so concerned with the current stalemate that is going to adds versely impact low income people more than just about any other group. these are the folks that have no one to champion them, and that's why we've stood up to have responsible programs that make a difference for him zoosh beyond the plan b proposal that has been discussed at length, they did pass a bill trying to make some changes to these automatic cuts, the so-called sequester. it was cuts to food stamps and meals on wheels and medicated, which is health care for some of the poor americans who you advocate for. are you being surprised at this juncture that was one of the main solutions in congress to
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these automatic cuts. >> it's basically the same bill they had passed earlier. it's their really failed recipe for how to move forward. they also then eliminated the controls on the pentagon, and one of the things that we know is that these social programs are the most accountable. they've taken the largest cuts in history. i mean, just last year they took over a billion in cuts over ten years. i mean, these programs are decimated, and, yet, striving so hard to care for people, and, yet, the pentagon, we think, should be as accountable as social programs, so we need -- we know that our men and women in uniform need to be protected, but there's a lot of pork and a lot of unexamined waste at the pentagon, and congressman -- i mean senator web has pointed that out. there are a variety of study that is have pointed that out, but the republicans seem to close their eyes to that reality. >> i don't want to put ow the spot, but i know you were at the dnc, and i know have you have been out there as a forceful
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advocate. clearly you found ways to get your message out. sometimes people think any discussion of poverty is sort of a bummer rather than a policy challenge, and you have helped bridge that. what is your conversation with the white house at this point? are you directly in touch? are you finding ways for you and your network to essentially push up these issues on them? can you give us a window into that? >> well, actually it's a both and centrality. yes, we're in contact with people at the bhous who are extremely concerned. in fact, this morning i was engaged with an e-mail exchange about what's going to happen to low income people, one, if they cannot get a deal and, two, to hold them firm in that protecting low income folks. we've always protected low income folks when it comes to making tough budgetary choices, so it's that strategy. we're also continuing on the bus. yesterday we were rabbis, imams and pastors and nuns on the bus on capitol hill. it got a good response, and we got a good reception in various
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political offices. >> well, sister simone, thank you for sending time with us and telling bus your work. >> oh, happy to do it. what people need to know, this is about christmas. this is the best of who we are as a nation. we need to speak up for those who are left out. >> absolutely. well, again, thank you. i want to flip it back to the panel for a moment. professor dyson, what do you think about what we just heard, and is there a way to advance that poverty discussion so we're not just doing budget balance sheets? >> sure. we have to have a focus on the poor. we talk about the middle class. we talk about the distribution of -- let's talk about the people who are squeezing at the bottom, 50 million people, who are poor, families of four making $24,000 a year. it is incredibly hard. we need to talk about them during this season and all seasons in america. >> all right. that's a fitting point to end on. i want to thank you, our panel. michael, ira, sam, and liz. i will see you back here next wednesday at moon eastern, 9:00 a.m. pacific, and i will be
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joibd by new york making sfwleen's jonathan, the new york teams nicolas, and joye reid. until then can you find us at facebook.com/now with alex. happy holidays to everyone. andrea mitchell reports is next. good afternoon, andrea. >> good afternoon. happy holidays to you, ari. have a great time. coming up next, president obama expecting to announce john kerry this hour as his choice for secretary of state. we'll bring that to you live. joining me mark lambberg, jeffrey gold beg, chris page, chris alissa, and congressman, and councilman hoyer all with us. the next steps for the fiscal cliff. now that the house has bailed on its speaker. andrea mitchell reports is next. more washington gridlock. no, it's worse -- look, our taxes are about to go up. not the taxes on our dividends though, right? that's a big part of our retirement. oh, no, it's dividends, too. the rate on our dividends would more than double. but we depend on our dividends to help pay our bills. we worked hard to save. well, the president and congress have got
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to work together to stop this dividend tax hike. before it's too late.
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by showing you the apartment building where the fire was. when things like this happen, i think you find a new perspective on life. red cross put us in a hotel so we were able to stay together. we're strong and if we overcame that or if we can overcome that...
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